Written by: Daniel Haurey on 05/23/23

Nobody likes a bad breakup. Ending any relationship is often the type of difficult conversation that everyone avoids. The same goes when it comes to business partnerships. 

However, working with the wrong managed services provider (MSP) can drag your organization down (best-case scenario) or even close your business for good (worst-case scenario).

A 2022 study revealed that 80% of businesses considered switching to a new MSP because their current MSP was not delivering on expectations.  
If you are wondering if it’s time to say goodbye to your MSP, here are eight IT managed services challenges that could serve as major warning signs.

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Managed Services Challenges That are Red Flags

1. Lagging Cybersecurity Knowledge

Many MSPs only dabble in cybersecurity, cobbling together solutions that leave vulnerabilities easily hacked by cybercriminals. 

Small and mid-sized businesses are at particular risk, with research showing 43% of cyber attacks are targeted at SMBs, while only about 14% of those businesses are protected from such an attack. 

Make sure your MSP has proven policies for all aspects of cybersecurity, including managed security solutions, user policies and training, incident response plans, backup and recovery plans for mission-critical systems, and more.

Having all aspects of cybersecurity covered is one of the most common IT managed services provider challenges. Many MSPs often focus only on products versus the bigger picture. 

MSPs should also be able to help you research and select cyber insurance.  Your managed IT service provider should also be proactively, and aggressively, identifying and remediating vulnerabilities in your system, and your contract with them should clearly outline the process for those steps. 

2. Ongoing Outages and Downtime
The main reason an organization chooses to work with an MSP is to avoid outages and downtime. 

The foundation for managed IT services has always been the capacity for remote monitoring that keeps business networks up and running smoothly. With the proliferation of cloud-based services, that expectation has grown exponentially. 

If your MSP routinely offers excuses for downtime, it might be time to review the service level agreements included in your managed services contract. 

While outages can be a common challenge, and an understandable one from time to time, if your organization is constantly facing productivity challenges due to technical issues, it might be time to look for a new MSP that can offer higher-quality service. 

3. No Thought Leadership 

Another common IT managed services provider challenge can be harder to define, but you’ll know it when it happens

Your MSP should be coming to your organization with best practices, advice on innovative new technologies for your business, and business strategies you can implement. 

For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic drove an urgent need for remote work, your MSP should have offered guidance on the best approach to the work from home transition, provided proven solutions to secure and protect your network as your team worked from home, and offered clear advice on weathering that storm from a technical standpoint.  

Situations like that can create challenges for IT managed services providers, but good business partners understand they must educate their clients and guide them through troubling conditions.

4. Lack of Follow-Up

Because every network faces common challenges such as lost passwords, product outages, and other operational hiccups, the proof of true partnership from your MSP comes when you submit a ticket or experience a problem. 

Does your current MSP communicate clearly and often? Does the process for requesting mission critical support and the follow-up make it easy for your team to ask for and get help? Your MSP should be communicating throughout the support ticket process, following up and escalating as needed. 

A lack of communication, slow response times to support tickets, and constantly recurring issues are clear signs of managed services provider challenges that can put your business at risk. 

When your team is frustrated with outages or lack of follow-up from your MSP, they are simply not fulfilling their promise and it’s time to move on.

IT Managed Services Challenges
Source: Inky

Shop the MSP Market After These Managed Services Providers Challenges   

5. Constant Team Turnover

Do you talk to a different person every time you contact your MSP? One of the most common IT managed services challenges is maintaining a stable engineering team. 

Every customer environment has its quirks, and the longer a helpdesk or outsourced IT support team works with your unique network, the more effective they become. 

Turnover is not only challenging for MSPs, but can also be a warning sign of bad leadership, lack of professional development and frustrating processes, all of which can impact the operations of an MSP. 

On the other hand, an MSP with long-term employees and low turnover indicates a solid business partner that delivers quality services. 

6. Lack of Documentation

If you are working with an MSP that lacks documentation, it’s a major red flag. Managed services providers should have clear documentation from onboarding through to a plan if you chose to offboard and move to another provider. 

This should include contracts, processes and SLAs, pricing for projects not included in your managed services agreement, policies for operations and more. 

Be certain that your provider has their standard operating procedures captured in writing before you sign on the dotted line, or trouble could lie ahead.

7. No Scalability

Of the many managed service provider challenges, this one is simple. As your organization grows and needs to evolve its technology stack, so should the capabilities of your MSP.  

Many managed services providers are well-prepared to support small businesses, but as those companies grow, the provider can’t scale alongside the client. That might mean they can’t keep up in terms of staff, or the services they offer are better suited for small businesses than larger companies. 

It could be that leadership isn’t experienced enough to partner with more sophisticated clients who demand a deeper understanding of business operations. Regardless, a lack of flexibility, knowledge and scalability can lead to trouble. 

8. Lack of Transparency

Do you constantly face surprises in your invoice, have a provider who can’t explain what’s included in their service offerings, or hides problems from you? These are all signs of serious managed services provider challenges. 
A reputable MSP is more than willing to answer your questions about pricing, processes, documentation, and policies. If they aren’t, you may need to look for a new partner.

Interested in learning more about working with MSPs? Check out these blogs:

Avoid Managed Services Providers Challenges With a Steady Partnership

With so many managed services challenges, if your MSP is constantly experiencing performance issues, it could have a chain reaction effect and directly impact your business and its productivity as well.

We can help you avoid this situation. If you are looking for a stable, mature managed services provider, perhaps it’s time to consider Exigent Technologies. 

We’re proud that the average employee at Exigent has been with our MSP for more than 10 years. The same goes for our average customer, several of whom have had partnerships lasting for over a decade. 
For more guidance on selecting the right MSP, check out our MSP Buyer’s Guide, or contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team.